Holiday Music by Robert Sirota
Featured in Songs of the Season
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 7pm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Performed by The Choristers of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine; Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor; Mellissa Hughes, soprano; Nadia Sirota, viola; Victoria Drake, harp
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
1000 Fifth Avenue | New York, NY
Tickets: $65 at www.metmuseum.org or 212.570.3949. Bring the Kids for $1. One full-price adult ticket allows you to purchase up to three kids’ (ages 7-16) tickets for $1 each.
Robert Sirota: www.robertsirota.com
New York, NY — Music for the holidays by composer Robert Sirota will be featured in a special holiday concert, Songs of the Season, presented by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue) in The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium on Friday, December 19, 2014 at 7pm. The Met Museum Presents concert will include performances by The Choristers of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine led by conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather, soprano Mellissa Hughes, violist Nadia Sirota, and harpist Victoria Drake.
The evening features Robert Sirota’s resetting of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” the touching Christina Rossetti poem; his arrangement of the Sephardic Hanukah song “Ocho Kandelikas” (world premiere); two arrangements of the traditional Christmas songs “Twelve Days” and “Three Ships” (world premiere) and a new work called “Christmas Past” (world premiere) which draws on material Sirota and his family recorded on cassette tapes as audio Christmas cards in 1991 and 1992.
“Ever since our children were very young, our family always has done a great deal of singing and playing around Christmas time,” Sirota says. “Over the last few years, I have created a small collection of holiday songs and arrangements as loving gifts to family and friends. It is a special joy now to share these with other families at The Metropolitan Museum.”
In addition, the Cathedral Choristers will be performing gems from the greatest British and American choral composers of the twentieth century, anchored by Benjamin Britten, whose Ceremony of Carols (“Procession, Hodie Christus natus est” and” Interlude”) is one of his most beloved works. Other British offerings are the lively “Personent Hodie” of John Rutter and “Adam Lay ybounden” by Peter Warlock, which in two verses of early English gives us the whole of Christian theology from Adam’s fall to Christ’s redemption. From Britten, they also present the simple, poignant “The Birds.” From America, they perform two works by the distinguished choral conductor/composer Gregg Smith (“Fear Not, Good Shepherds,” and “Little Lamb”), and James Adler’s contemporary classic, “Monday’s Child.”
Composer Robert Sirota: Over four decades, Robert Sirota has developed a distinctive voice, clearly discernible in all of his work – whether symphonic, choral, stage, or chamber music. The New York Times has described his style as, “fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism,” and writes, “Thick, astringent chromatic harmonies come in tightly bound chords to create nervous sonorities. Yet the textures are always lucid; details come through.” His works have been performed by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, Sequitur, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Left Bank Concert Society, Dinosaur Annex, the Chiara, American and Blair String Quartets, Ethel, The Peabody, Concord, and Webster Trios, and the Fischer Duo, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Yellow Barn and Cooperstown festivals. Orchestral performances include the Seattle, Vermont, Virginia, East Texas, Lincoln (Neb), Meridian (Miss), New Haven, Greater Bridgeport, Oradea (Romania) and Saint Petersburg (Russia) symphonies, as well as conservatory orchestras of Oberlin, Peabody, Manhattan School of Music, Toronto, and Singapore. He has received composer grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Information Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the American Music Center. His principal teachers were Nadia Boulanger, Earl Kim, and Leon Kirchner. Sirota’s works are recorded on the Capstone, Albany, New Voice, and Gasparo labels. www.robertsirota.com
Cathedral Choristers; Malcolm J. Merriweather, Choral Associate; Kent Tritle, Director of Cathedral Music: Founded in 1901, the Cathedral Choristers are deeply interwoven with the history of The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine. Today, the Chorister program represents a unique partnership between The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and The Cathedral School. Some 26 Cathedral School students drawn from the fifth through eighth grades join together to practice three times per week. Choristers provide musical leadership for services in the Cathedral on Sundays during the academic year. Choristers sing additional concerts at Christmas and are in high demand for professional engagements. The Choristers have toured the world for decades. Recent tours have taken them to Japan, England, and Colonial Williamsburg. In 2013, they sang at Carnegie Hall for the Oratorio Society of New York’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and traveled to London to sing services at St Paul’s Cathedral. In 2014, the Choristers repeated their performance at Carnegie Hall. Rehearsing, singing for services, and preparing for special events provide a comprehensive music education, and enable the Choristers to learn a large and varied repertoire of sacred music. www.stjohndivine.org
Baritone, conductor and teacher Malcolm J. Merriweather is Choral Associate at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, working in partnership with Kent Tritle, Director of Cathedral Music. Trained as a chorister from an early age, his adult singing career has included solos with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, New York Choral Society, Norfolk Chamber Choir, Gregory Kunde Chorale, Voices, Bach Vespers Choir, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is recorded on the PARMA and Navona labels. He has served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Rochester Boys Choir and as Bruno Walter Associate Conductor of the New York Choral Society. After graduating summa cum lauda from Syracuse, Malcolm went on to earn Master of Music degrees in both Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance from Eastman. The 2014-2015 season will be a busy one for Malcolm; he will be involved with the numerous choral concerts on the Great Music in a Great Space series at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. www.malcolmjmerriweather.com
Nadia Sirota, viola: “A one-woman contemporary-classical commissioning machine” (Pitchfork), violist Nadia Sirota is best known for her singular sound and expressive execution, coaxing works and collaborations from the likes of Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and Missy Mazzoli. Her debut album First Things First (New Amsterdam Records) was named a record of the year by The New York Times, and her follow-up Baroque (Bedroom Community and New Amsterdam) has been called “beautiful music of a higher order than anything else you will hear this year” by SPINMedia website PopMatters. This season, Nadia premieres both a new concerto written for Nico Muhly and a new podcast, Meet the Composer on Q2 Music, exploring the work of living composers through her interviews and musical selections. Her previous show on Q2 earned her the 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. A member of yMusic, Alarm Will Sound, and ACME, Nadia has worked with Grizzly Bear, Jónsi and Arcade Fire. She won SMU’s 2013 Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. www.nadiasirota.com
Mellissa Hughes, soprano: Hailed by The New York Times as “a versatile, charismatic soprano endowed with brilliant technique and superlative stage instincts…indispensable to New York’s new-music ecosystem,” Mellissa Hughes enjoys a busy international career in contemporary and early music. Upcoming and recent highlights include Chicago Symphony “Beyond the Score” performances celebrating Pierre Boulez; Ted Hearne’s The Source, at BAM; a solo American Songbook recital at Lincoln Center; an acclaimed recording of Jacob Cooper’s Silver Threads from Nonesuch Records; international tours with John Zorn, and more. In the classical concert hall she has performed Mozart’s Vespers and Requiem with Sir Neville Marriner, Bach cantatas with Julian Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and the role of Dido under the direction of Andrew Lawrence King. Equally at home in front of a rock band, Hughes has received widespread acclaim in her role as lead vocalist of Newspeak, an amplified alt-classical band, and for her work with Missy Mazzoli’s Victoire. Based in Brooklyn, Mellissa Hughes holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Yale University. www.mellissahughes.com
Victoria Drake, harp: Victoria Drake’s multi-faceted career stretches the boundaries of music for the harp. She has been soloist with over a dozen notable orchestras in the New York area including the American Classical Orchestra, the Greenwich Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi, the Concordia Orchestra, the Westfield Symphony, the Connecticut Orchestra at Harkness, and the Vermont Mozart Festival. She has appeared in recital across the country, as well as in Israel and France. She performs in several New York orchestras, including the American Symphony Orchestra, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Ballet Theatre, and plays regularly with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota. She has worked with Orpheus, the New York City Opera, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the New York Philharmonic. She has recorded chamber music for ESS.A.Y, CRI, Spectrum, Well-Tempered, Arabesque, MSR Classics and Koch International, and has four solo and two concerto recordings in her discography. www.victoriadrake.com
About Met Museum Presents: A wide-ranging series of performances and talks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that explores contemporary issues and innovations through the lens of the Museum’s exhibitions and unparalleled gallery spaces. Met Museum Presents creates a platform for curators, thought-leaders, and artists to come together and explore the Met as a generative force.
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